These Gray Days of December

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

It’s nearly winter in southern New Mexico.  For the most part we’ve had sunny days, but lately we’ve had our share of gray.  Earlier in the week we actually had rain and there was snow up in the St. Augustin pass and the peaks.  A couple of weeks ago I took my short trip up to The Other Side of the Mountain…these days, that excursion wouldn’t be so inviting.

First Snow on Organ Peaks 12/08

First Snow on Organ Peaks 12/08

It’s always shock when the gray sets in this time of year because it feels so PROFOUNDLY gray.  Growing up in New Jersey, going to college in Ithaca, New York, and spending a year in Milwaukee, Wisconsin I accepted the rain, the snow, and the raw weather.  The occasional blizzard, too. By March, however, it was downright depressing. Sure, spring was around the corner and a 40° F day seemed warm. But it was the continuous gray that got to me.  It just hung like a shroud…

A series of gray days or days that start out sunny and turn gray with a low cloud cover is hard to take here in southern New Mexico. Maybe I’m just older. Maybe I’ve just gotten spoiled. But when what I call “Jersey weather” descends, so do my spirits.  A single day of completely gray weather affects my mood to the point where I am praying for the Sun’s return so that I don’t have to feel like I need to curl up into a ball and hide. I often wonder how I managed to tolerate the winters back East and the one in Milwaukee, which was just plain brutal!

The webcam has been showing the back and forth between bright blue skies, wispy clouds, and heavy clouds that look like it will rain any minute. By Christmas, the really “bad” days of winter set in. Sometimes we will have a rip-roaring wind and rain storm or perhaps an inch or so of snow that melts almost immediately.  It will feel like winter back East for about a week, then we get usually pleasant days with very cold nights through January and into February.  As long as the days are dry and sunny, I don’t care much about the nights, except for what the coldest spells might do to my garden under the “greenhouse.”  In that case, I throw a few blankets over the vegetables for a bit more protection.

The dogs know the weather has changed. Tico hates this time of year.  We adopted him on February 1, 2002, the same day that he was dumped in the cage outside the animal shelter after being kept for a month by people who had found him by the side of a road.  We had our name on a list for a small dog to be a companion for Toro, and when the shelter called I rushed right over. Tico was sitting in a box of shredded paper, alternating between shaking like a leaf or growling with bared teeth.  The attendant begged us to take him, as he wasn’t making a very good impression and most likely would wind up being put to sleep within a few days.   Once I held him, that was it.  Since it was a Friday, he couldn’t be picked up until the next Monday after his neutering surgery, so we brought Toro over to play with him and the two seemed to get along.  We took Tico home and since then we’ve seen that winters are hard on him. He curls up as if he’s hibernating and refuses to go out when he senses a change of the weather. He’s as sensitive as a precision barometer.  He is so upset that it’s even hard to keep him on a schedule to go out to the bathroom. He must have some very bad memories from being out on a cold road during the winter as a pup. Toro, on the other hand, is a New Jersey native who grew up playing in the snow and has no problems during the winter.

Slick, of course, was rescued from the streets at the end of 2002  just as the weather turned cold.  Now that he’s older, he doesn’t protest too much when I put on his little “jackie” for his early morning walk or his nighttime pj’s made of a cut-up sweat pants leg.   As a min pin, he really feels the cold to the point of shivering and it’s not unusual for me to wake up in the morning to find him out of his bed and under the covers with me.

This year there’s a real difference in how I’m feeling as winter approaches.  It’s just a few days shy of the two-month anniversary of the death of my ex-pat friend who lived in England.  Sharon and I never met in-person, although we talked on the phone and then via Skype.  We  first “met” while I was doing columns over at Buzzflash (ca. 2001). We started corresponding and kept at it until this October.

I  knew she had been having health problems, but she was very private. She told me she had pneumonia (which turned out not to be true) and that she was getting better. But her emails, which had been an almost a daily ritual, became less and less frequent.

Suddenly, she wrote and told me that she loved me.  A few days later, I received an email that she had died.

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Today, A Stress-Free Post! What Could Be Better Than a TRUE Story About a November MIRACLE DOG!! (With Pics)

Today, IA is a “safe-haven,” a place for heartwarming thoughts, inspiration, and love!  We will NOT ALLOW any negative thoughts about the campaign or the election intrude on this shelter from the media hysteria today. It is a place of comfort being provided for all PUMAs today!

Let me take you back EXACTLY 6 years ago to November 4, 2002.  It was the day before Election Day that year, an off-year, of course, from Presidential politics.  The weather here in Southern New Mexico had been getting very cold at night for a few weeks.  It was the time for everyone to start getting cozy as the sun set. It became a very special day….

Toro and Tico, both chihuahuas,  were happily ruling the roost here. We had adopted Tico in February of 2002 as a companion for Toro, who had come with us from New Jersey to New Mexico a couple of years before. Everything was proceeding nicely, except for one thing.

I had had back surgery two years before in 2000 and had spent Thanksgiving in the hospital. It went smoothly, but recovery was slow.  Two years later in October 2002, I was still in severe pain, drugged to the gills, hardly moving and depressed.

Over the summer my mother, who was doing the dog walking, started talking about a little black dog that was roaming the neighborhood.  As I tried to walk down the block, I would run into neighbors who also reported on the little dog.  One woman told me she thought he slept on a house porch on another street…that turned out to be untrue.  Another woman told me he would drink from her bird bath. Yet another neighbor told me he was in his garage sitting on a stool cleaning his car wheels when the dog came into the garage. The man reached for him and fell off the stool…and the little dog ran off.

The reports kept coming. Finally, I called Animal Control, only to be told that they had been trying to catch the little guy for 8 months. Cages, traps…they couldn’t get him. Doing the math that October, I figured he had been “on the road” since February. That means he had been without a home through the cold spring, the extremely hot summer, and now was heading into another season of cold nights.

He was seen in the arroyo, near the highway and under cars.  In fact, a man a block away told me he was sleeping some nights under his mothballed Corvette.  New construction was starting next door to our house and I began seeing him resting underneath the construction trailer. Occasionally, I saw him with other strays, but he was usually alone.

One day as we were driving out of the development I saw a man sitting on an electrical box with a big dog biscuit in his hand.  I stopped the car and asked him what was going on.  He told me that he was trying to feed the little dog. Just then, at the corner, we saw him. He was licking the sidewalk. He ran off when I approached the spot…and I saw that he had been licking a smashed egg that had dried. Then, a few days later, my mother saw him in the middle of main street out of the development in the morning during the rush hour…he appeared confused and cars had stopped but he managed to escape unharmed.

Something snapped right then. I knew I couldn’t let this little guy continue like this. It was getting bitterly cold at night as we headed into the last couple of weeks of October. My mother said he was limping.  I was afraid a coyote would catch him if he was down in the arroyo. Something had to be done. He actually began trailing after my mother and our two clannish chis, who took an immediate dislike to him!

I noticed that he seemed to come down our street in the morning and the late afternoon. I got some food and water and put it down near our front wall that was next to the lot next to us where the new house was going up.  That was in the morning. It was gone almost immediately.

I then moved the food and water bowls to the end of our driveway. And then a short way up the side of the driveway.  He’d come by around 4 o’clock every day. I got into the routine of getting up early and putting out the food in the morning at around 6 AM.  Sometimes he’d come down the street from the direction of the arroyo around that time and would eat. Other times he would come from the opposite direction, from the  main road.

This went on for about a week. Then, I started opening the garage door and placing the food just outside the lip of the garage.  Sometimes I’d leave a treat.  One day I left tuna fish in the morning. He ate it, but when I left it in the afternoon, he skipped it. Not a tuna fan, apparently!

After a few days, I set up a folding chair. I put the food down outside the garage, but sat in the chair.  He was tentative, but he was hungry, so he ate but he left immediately.  Then, he got to the point where he ate but would take a treat and bury it across the street.  Then he started sitting in the driveway in the sun for awhile.  All this time I sat quietly and talked to him.

When he wanted more, he would stand by the dish. I calmly got up and went inside and brought out more food.  He would dart away, but return and eat.

One morning I didn’t see him around. Worried, I got myself down to the corner and called, “Sweet-ie”!  Down the hill he came and he followed me home.   This became a ritual over the next few days. One day, he didn’t return at 4 P.M. and I was worried that something had happened to him.  Not only was he limping, but I could see that he had patches on his coat. He seemed tired and run down.  I thought he was ready to get picked up.

By this time I had moved the food bowls into the garage a few feet away from where I sat.  On Saturday, November 2, I moved the bowl right next to me.  He ate without a problem.  But the next day, he didn’t show up in the morning and I was panicked.  Had I waited too long? Had he wanted me to pick him up but had given up on me because I hadn’t moved then? Was he hurt? Or worse?

On Monday, November 4, I set up the chair and the food and went down to the corner. I called “Sweet-tie” but he didn’t come! Upset, I turned to go home…and there he was , coming toward me down the sidewalk from the other direction!

I sat in the chair, and he came up right next to me.  Before he took a bite, I quickly scooped him up and ran into the house! I had set up a baby gate so that he would stay in the kitchen. Toro and Tico, the clannish chihuahuas, were going nuts.  The little black dog jumped over the gate and promptly deposited a gift under the piano bench.  I put a halter on him and put him outside and he immediately went over the wall! I fished him up and knew I couldn’t take my eyes off him for a second!

Things settled down as I took him for a walk. He did fine. And then we came home and he went to sleep on the couch. That night and for several nights after, he howled at the back door. But during the day he slept like he hadn’t slept in a long while.  He was under the covers, warm, well-fed and safe.

I scheduled a vet appointment to have his limp and skin checked out. In the meantime, I called the no-kill shelter, Safe Haven, but they had no room for him.  A man in the neighborhood who had tried to catch him once and failed said he wanted him…but he went out to work everyday. I couldn’t see the little guy thrown into a yard…he’d get away somehow.  And I refused to bring him to the shelter because I figured he’d be adopted…but would wind up roaming again! He could jump any wall and walk it with ease!

I wasn’t really sure what he was, but the vet confirmed he was a fairly big miniature pinscher!  His limp was going to be fine and we got started on clearing up his skin.  The vet thought he was about a year old.  Still not sure what to do with him at the “logical” level of thinking, I scheduled an appointment to get him fixed.  Of course, by the time he went in for that a week or so later, my heart had made the decision. We were going to keep him!  Toro and Tico weren’t too happy about it, either!

What to name him?  We went through a couple of names until I looked at him and commented that since he had roamed everywhere around the development, he was really a “city slicker.”  The name stuck–from then on he was SLICKER (Slick for short)!

Then came the problem of walking him! My mother couldn’t handle all three, so I took charge of Slicker. I started to walk, painfully, down the block with him.  At the corner we started getting into some hilliness.  Slick wanted to go there, so we’d go a short distance. Everyday I’d huff and puff a short way up that low grade hill.  Gradually, the huffing and puffing disappeared and my weak leg and back started to get stronger. Soon, I could walk up that hill!!

As I started walking with Slick, my energy came back and I started doing more. Instead of sitting around in pain and depression, I as now getting out and about. My little MIRACLE DOG had restored my interest in life and had started healing me, physically and mentally!

Six years later, Slick and I are celebrating our anniversary together tomorrow, November 4th. No matter what happens on Election Day, we’ll be happy about being together!  Toro and Tico have made an uneasy peace with “the intruder” and Slick has matured into the most loving, appreciative dog one could hope for!

Now, you won’t believe this, but a week or so ago I saw a little black and white dog with something draped around him/her in the street. I stopped the car, but he ran way down the road.  A couple of days ago, a neighbor about a block away told me he had seen the little dog and what he was dragging along was a plastic bag with ties that had been caught on his neck! The little dog probably got tangled up while searching for food in the bag that was set out on garbage day. I’m keeping an eye out to see if he comes this way again…

So what have I done? Yesterday I put out a bowl of water and a bowl of food near the wall at the side of the driveway near the sidewalk. Maybe it’s time for another November miracle…in more ways than one!

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Here are some pictures of my darling, sweet boy…SLICKER!

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And waiting for another November miracle….

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ATTENTION ALL DOGS!…My 3 Discuss the Issues, Decide to Endorse Hillary! (and pose for pics, too!)

This morning my 3 sons dogs collared me during breakfast for a family meeting. Expecting a group request for some of the egg yolk that I can’t eat, I was totally surprised when it turned out that their attention was focused on politics!

Slicker, being the most streetwise and brave, decided to talk first.

Slick on patio

You know, Mom, me and the two squirts have been having some serious discussions while we’ve been out sunning on the patio lately. We think you ought to know that we are committed to making Hillary Clinton the Democratic Party’s nominee!!

As I picked my jaw up from the floor, Slick continued:

I’m was an orphan when you picked me up off the street, so I know all about needing a home. I’m really glad Hillary helped move a law that has made adoptions easier (and that includes gay adoption, too!). Hillary says on her website that she advocates “for adoption and for abused and neglected children — as First Lady, Hillary pushed legislation that more than doubled adoptions out of foster care.” Wow! Mom, I know you did some investigating and you think I came from a place where there was a man who abused me and that is why I ran away. Well, that’s true, you finally figured it out! That’s why I’m so glad Hillary wants to get some attention toward helping abused or neglected kids! There are so many neglected kids and dogs where we live, we could use the help!

Not to mention that, in dog years, I would have been a little too old to be included in Obama’s “universal coverage” for all children! Lucky for me, you pay for my healthcare out-of-pocket, Mom! But for other older dogs, it sure would be nice to have universal coverage like in HIllary’s plan, so that even if they were ONE DAY older than being what Obama calls a kid, they could have good health care, too! When I was found, I had bad skin and a limp so I really needed health care then, remember? (I love you, Mom!)

Tico then chimed in.

I agree with Slick TOTALLY. Remember how you adopted me after I was left outside at the Animal Shelter? Luckily, you adopted me the same day I was dumped there. But after awhile, I had some troubles because I’m built sort of long and stocky with short legs. I had a problem going to the bathroom, so you made sure I had anal gland surgery! OUCH! If I had been covered under Hillary’s universal plan it would have been less painful for your bank account, too!

Toro, at this point, finally decided to voice his opinion.

Being the oldest dog here, I really understand some of the key issues that affect me! First of all, being the Number 1 dog, I was pretty upset when Slicker arrived–especially with my being a chihuahua with a lot of rat terrier in me….well, I get along with Tico OK because he’s a chi, too, but Slicker? He’s a min pin and, well, he made me nervous wreck! I know, Mom, that you try to treat me extra special but I think I could use more mental health care. If we had Hillary’s health care plan maybe I could get some psychological therapy because Hillary says that “The new array of choices offered in the Menu will provide benefits at least as good as the typical plan offered to Members of Congress, which includes mental health parity and usually dental coverage.

Get that last bit about dental coverage??? Me and you, Mom, are in the same boat…bad teeth! Well, mine are still actually OK but they get very dirty real fast, so that means I have to get them cleaned which is pretty expensive! You’ve had implants and crowns and just finished a root canal, so you’re even worse off than ME! I approve of Hillary’s plan, because I know you could sure use some dental insurance! Mom, go visit http://www.hillaryclinton.com/ to find out more!

blogpictoro-tico

Well, with that it was time for their morning walk. They were in a rush because after coming back, they planned to make some phone calls for Hillary. According to Toro, it’s up to the dogs of America to get Hillary into the White House! Dogs, he claims, know all sorts of ways to get their people to do what dogs want them to do!

So, I guess this dog-mom is going to keep blogging until Toro tells me I can stop!